Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 9th, 2012
Is the Illiamna Volcano getting ready to rumble again? It did on March 7th. Will a full-scale eruption occur soon? On Wednesday, March 7, 2012, the Alaska Volcano Observatory issued an alert that they were closely monitoring Iliamna Volcano, 130 miles from Anchorage on the lower west side of Cook Inlet, following a period of increased seismic activity. That was before a moderate earthquake struck the upper Cook Inlet region in the wee hours of Thursday morning, March 8th, that many residents of Alaska’s largest city may have woken up to.
“Over the past three months, there have been several episodes of increased earthquake activity at Iliamna Volcano,” the AVO said. “One of these episodes is currently ongoing, and is characterized by numerous small earthquakes. This increase in earthquake activity may be related to movement of magma at depth, and additional observations including an airborne gas sampling and observation flight are being planned.”
Despite the warning, the alert level for the 10,016-foot volcano remained at “Green,” meaning that no eruptive activity or potential for imminent eruption was evident. Iliamna has no record of eruptions, though it has gone through similar periods of increased seismicity in the past. The AVO notes that an incident in 1996-97 was similar, though it didn’t result in an eruption.
The alert was issued prior to a magnitude-4.1 earthquake Thursday morning that may have woken some Southcentral Alaska residents. It was located less than 40 miles from Kenai, Soldotna, and Anchorage.
Mount Iliamna is a glacier-carved stratovolcano located approximately 215 km (134 mi) southwest of Anchorage on the west side of lower Cook Inlet. Holocene eruptive activity from Iliamna is little known, but radiocarbon dating seems to indicate at least a few eruptions, all before the European settlement of Alaska. However, fumaroles located at about 2,740 m (8,990 ft) elevation on the eastern flank produce nearly constant plumes of condensate and minor amounts of sulfurous gases. These plumes are quite vigorous and have resulted in numerous pilot reports and early historical accounts of “eruptions” at Iliamna Volcano.
The Iliamna Lake Monsters are cryptids that allegedly live in Iliamna Lake in Alaska, near the Illiamna Volcano. Due to the lake’s remote location and vast size, little exploration has been done to investigate the sightings (although one person who did was Tom Slick). It has been hypothesized they could be many animals, including giant sturgeons, seals, whales, and other large fish. The length of the creature varies by sighting from ten feet to thirty feet. There is no physical evidence to prove the existence of the creatures. It may be a previously unknown giant fish or even an undiscovered whale. However, if it is a whale (unusual beluga?), it might be seen much more often when it comes up for air. But then, if there are no people around, they aren’t seen often. It is all a Catch-22. The Jerry Pippen sighting is often discussed (see here).
The Discovery Channel featured the Hillstrand brothers, Johnathan and Andy, from the Deadliest Catch, trying to catch the alleged monster, in addition to Caddy. After viewing footage filmed at Nushagak Bay by fisherman Kelly Nash in 2009, they talked to cryptozoologist Paul Leblond, who suggested the creature was a Cadborosaurus. In the end, the brothers possibly found the creature, and tried to catch it with a fishing pole. The creature broke the line and disappeared below to the depths of the lake. They described the creature as a big fish at least 12 to 15 ft long, with a white stripe on its back.
Would an eruption of the Illiamna Volcano increase activity of the nearby lake and other watery cryptids?